Which Name should one chant if the Guru has not imparted a Name?

Chanting

Contents


Repeating (chanting) The Lord’s Name

1. Definition

Chanting (japa) means repetition of some letter, word, mantra or sentence. Namajapa means repetition of The Lord’s Name and mantrajapa that of a mantra. The terms japa and the Name (Nama) are often used synonymously with chanting.

2. Importance

Continuity in spiritual practice is achieved only through chanting. The Name is both the tool and the target. The ultimate objective is to merge with the Name.

3. How does ‘repeating (chanting) The Lord’s Name’ work?

‘The subconscious mind carries millions of impressions, to erase even a single one of which would take a very long time. As such, a considerable period of time would be wasted in overcoming the tendencies of the subconscious mind by following restraints and regulations (yam-niyam). It is much more important to make continual efforts to blend with The Absolute Being (Purush), rather than to try and erase such impressions from the mind, which arise from Prakruti. This is precisely what can be achieved by repeating (chanting) The Lord’s Name. The mind, intellect, subconscious mind (chitta), among others, are all constituents of Prakruti and these function according to their own characteristics. Instead of wasting one’s spiritual practice (sadhana) in resisting them, one would achieve one’s goal faster, if that practice is utilized to progress towards the God principle (Purushtattva) by becoming one with the Name (of God) that one repeats (chants).’ – Saint

4. Benefits

4.1 According to psychology

  • A. At least when chanting is going on, no new impressions about other things are created on the subconscious mind. In order to prevent the development of new subconscious impressions, repeating (chanting) The Lord’s Name, is the best path to follow in the waking state.
  • B. When chanting is going on, the conscious mind does not accept impulses coming from the centres like the desire and instinct centre, like and dislike centre, temperamental characteristic centre, etc. of the subconscious mind. If this continues for quite sometime then impressions in these centres start decreasing.
  • C. The power of concentration increases.

4.2 According to Spirituality

  • A. If the Name of a deity is repeated (chanted), it gets appeased.
  • B. If one chants some bijakshar one can acquire control over a particular element like the tej (absolute fire) element and can acquire a supernatural power accordingly.
  • C. A non-action (akarma karma): If one repeats (chants) The Lord’s Name when performing any action (karma) then that action becomes a non-action, i.e. no accumulated account (sanchit) is generated from it. Since no new accounts are created, after experiencing all that is destined, one can quickly get liberated from the cycle of births and deaths. If one considers the accumulated account of an individual to be 100 units at the time of birth, then on an average in one birth 6 units get depleted by undergoing destiny which means man should be able to attain Liberation within l6 to l7 births. But this does not happen because, whilst one is undergoing 6 units of destiny, new accounts are simultaneously being created by one’s wilful actions (kriyaman karma) and the account rises by 10 units. Hence, at the time of death the accumulated account has 104 units instead of 94. Consequently, an individual gets more and more entrapped in the cycle of births and deaths. To prevent such a thing from happening the action occurring should be a non-action (akarma karma) and this can happen only by repeating (chanting) The Lord’s Name.

5. Which Name should one repeat (chant)?

5.1 Repetition (chanting) of The Lord’s Name to eliminate distress due to distressing energies

Before commencing this spiritual practice, it is extremely essential to find out for oneself if one is afflicted by distressing energy or not and make efforts to overcome it, if present. The following explanation will illustrate its importance.

30% of people in society and 50% of true seekers are afflicted with distressing energies. Due to distressing energies, an individual experiences physical or psychological distress and / or constantly encounters some or the other obstacle in his life. Externally, though one may attribute this distress or obstacles to physical, psychological or worldly factors yet their true cause is affliction by distressing energies. No amount of gross treatment can relieve the physical or psychological distress caused by distressing energies completely. Just as fever contracted due to malaria can be cured completely only with anti-malarial drugs, so is this. Distressing energies also cause obstacles in the spiritual practice of seekers. Consequently, seekers do not reap the expected benefit of their spiritual practice as most of it is expended in alleviating the distress caused by distressing energies. For instance, if one’s vital energy (pranshakti) has decreased due to distressing energies then most of one’s spiritual practice is spent to restore it. So also, distressing energies take the benefit of the spiritual practice of seekers thus depriving them of the expected results despite undertaking a lot of spiritual practice. This shows how necessary it is to give priority to eliminate distress due to distressing energies.

Every deity is a specific principle. When we repeat (chant) the Name of a deity, its principle gets drawn towards us. Distressing energies too are of different types and possess their own inherent qualities. The seven commonly worshipped deities namely Ganapati, Shrikrushna, Datta, Maruti, Shrirama, Durga and Shiva have the ability to destroy almost all types of distressing energies. Depending on a seeker’s constitution, the spiritual practice in his previous birth and type of distressing energy, repetition (chanting) of one or more Names out of these seven prove to be more useful to the seeker to eliminate the distress due to distressing energy. First of all, one should know whether one is afflicted with distressing energy and if so, the Name of the deity which can eliminate it. The following experiment of repeating (chanting) the Names of the seven deities will assist in this. After performing the experiment of repeating (chanting) all the seven Names in a specific manner, one will know the Name with which one experiences some distress. One can conclude that the Name of that deity with which one experiences some distress is most useful to overcome one’s distress due to distressing energy. That Name should be repeated (chanted) for a maximum period of the day till the distress due to distressing energy is overcome completely. So also, one should use other remedies along with the repetition (chanting) of The Lord’s Name to overcome the distress. Refer to the holy text ‘Remedies to eliminate distressing energies’ for details on these remedies and the method of experimenting about repeating (chanting) The Lord’s Name. After the distress due to distressing energies is totally overcome, one can undertake repetition (chanting) of The Lord’s Name as given below.

5.2 Name of one’s favourite deity [benevolent (ishtadevata)] or that recommended by the Guru?

The deity which is responsible for spiritual progress such as the family deity or the deity whose Name is given by the Guru as Gurumantra for chanting, is known as the benevolent deity (ishtadevata). Despite this being so, most consider the deity bestowing worldly benefits or the deity of one’s liking as the benevolent deity. One should repeat (chant) the Name imparted by the Guru instead of chanting the Name of one’s favourite deity for the following reasons.

  • A. One does not understand which Name is best suited for one’s own spiritual progress. Only the Guru is capable of providing this guidance.
  • B. Repeating (chanting) the Name of one’s favourite deity helps only to enhance one’s sattvik (sattva predominant) nature. The gurumantra however can take one upto the unmanifest state (nirgun), that is beyond the three components (trigunatit).
  • C. The gurumantra does not contain mere letters but has spiritual knowledge (dnyan), divine consciousness (chaitanya) and the Guru’s blessings as well. Hence spiritual progress is faster. This Name containing divine consciousness is called a sabija or a divya (divine) mantra. However, one has to practise Spirituality to obtain the ultimate result by chanting the sabija mantra.
  • D. Due to faith in the Guru, one repeats (chants) the gurumantra with greater faith than the mantra decided upon by oneself. Also when remembering the Guru one tends to repeat (chant) the Name given by Him and thus one’s chanting increases.
  • E. When one repeats (chants) the Name of one’s favourite deity at least some amount of ego accompanies it. On the contrary, when repeating (chanting) the Name recommended by the Guru there is no ego.

5.3 Which Name does one repeat (chant) if the Guru has not imparted a Name?

In this case one should repeat (chant) the Name of the family deity (kuladevata), which refers to both the male or the female family deity.

  • A. A family (kula) is made up of those people who are closely related to each other. Depending upon which family deity’s worship is conducive for his spiritual progress, an individual is born in that particular family.
  • B. Kula also means the Muladhar chakra, energy or spiritual energy system (kundalini). The kuladevata means that deity with the worship of which the dormant spiritual energy (kundalini) in the Muladhar chakra is activated, that is spiritual progress starts. If one has both a male and a female deity, then one should chant the Name of the female family deity because She is appeased faster due to Her closer link with the pruthvi (absolute earth) element than the male family deity.
  • C. If one is not aware of the Name of the family deity, then one should repeat (chant) the Name of one’s favourite deity or “Shri Kuldevtayai namaha.” Once that is completed one comes across someone who tells one who the family deity is. Once the chanting of the family deity is completed the Guru Himself comes into a seeker’s life and blesses him with a gurumantra.
  • D. Worship of the family deity began in the post-Vedic and pre-Puranic period.
  • E. When all the principles in the universe are imbibed into the subtle body, the spiritual practice is said to be complete. Just as the cow is the only animal which has the ability to attract the frequencies of all the deities in the universe (that is why it is said that there are 33 crores of deities in the cow’s abdomen), so also only repeating (chanting) of the family deity’s Name has the potential to attract all the principles in the universe and increase them all upto 30%. Contrary to this, repeating (chanting) the Names of deities like Vishnu, Shankar, Ganapati, Lakshmi, etc. increases only that particular principle in which one is deficient. This is akin to taking vitamin A, B, etc. as a supplement to reduce the deficiency of that vitamin in the body.
  • F. The Guru is the mother, the Guru is the father, the Guru is our family deity.

    When a prayer so intense is made unto the Guru,
    He always protects in every way.
    Let the body, speech and mind be offered at the Guru’s feet.
    Eknath surrenders to Lord Janardan and considers Lord Janardan as His Guru. – Saint Eknath

  • G. An example of one who made both worldly and spiritual progress by worshipping his family deity is Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. Saint Tukaram Maharaj who attained liberation along with the physical body (sadeha mukti) by intensely worshipping Lord Pandurang, was the family deity of Tukaram Maharaj.

Further details about the worship of the family deity are given in ‘Science of Spirituality : Chapter 9 – Path of Repeating (Chanting) The Lord’s Name (Namasankirtanyoga)’.

5.4 Repetition (chanting) of The Lord’s Name essential for further spiritual progress

A. For whom is it useful? : Importance of repetition (chanting) of the Name of the family deity is given in ‘5.3’. The point elucidates why repetition (chanting) of the Name of the family deity is essential for a seeker in the primary stage. The stage of repeating (chanting) the Name of the family deity may have been completed by those who have attained a spiritual level of at least 50% through spiritual practice. Generally, this stage can be completed in the present birth after undertaking the spiritual practice of merely repetition (chanting) of The Lord’s Name for some years (approximately 15 to 20 years) or if an individual is born in the same family then sometimes it may even have been completed in the previous birth. If one renders service and makes sacrifice in addition to repetition (chanting) of The Lord’s Name then this stage can be completed even in 5 to 6 years. For further spiritual progress, it is beneficial if seekers who have completed this stage, repeat (chant) the Name of some superior deity rather than that of the family deity. One can decide which Name of The Lord is essential for one from those of various deities by repeating (chanting) the Names of various deities according to the specific method of experimentation. Detailed information about this method of experimentation is given in ‘Science of Spirituality : Vol. 6 A – Path of Repeating (Chanting) The Lord’s Name (Namasankirtanyoga)’. The Lord’s Name found by this method of experimentation should be considered to be the gurumantra itself. However if one begins to experience distress due to distressing energies when repeating (chanting) it then one should stop it. Then the experiment of finding The Lord’s Name to overcome distressing energies as given in point ‘5.1’ should be performed and one should repeat (chant) The Lord’s Name found through it. After the distress due to distressing energies is totally overcome, one should carry out the experiment once again and start repeating (chanting) The Lord’s Name which is essential for one’s spiritual progress.

B. What should those who have been initiated with a gurumantra do? : Those who have been initiated with a gurumantra should not decide which repetition (chanting) of The Lord’s Name they should undertake for further spiritual progress through the method of experimenting. Instead, they should repose faith in the Name imparted by the Guru and repeat (chant) it continuously.

5.5 Method of repeating (chanting) the deity’s Name

When addressing someone instead of simply using his name, one refers to him respectfully as Shri. (Mr.), Smt. (Mrs.), etc. Similarly, one should chant the Name of the family deity in a way which expresses respect for the same. Shri should prefix the Name of the family deity, the Name that follows should be in dative case (chaturthi pratyay) and should conclude with namaha. For instance if the family deity is Ganesh then ‘Shri Ganeshaya namaha’, if it is Bhavani, then ‘Shri Bhavanidevyai namaha’. Since it is difficult to pronounce ‘Shri Bhavanyai namaha’ one should use devyai.

When the family deity is in the form of two deities (For example Laxminarayana, Ishwarlaxmi) then 50 % of the deity principle of both, the male deity and the female deity is activated. When the family deity is as mentioned above then one should chant in the following way – The deity’s name should be chanted prefixing Shri to it, followed by the dative case (chaturthi pratyay), according to the second deity and concluding with namaha. For example, if the family deity is Ishwarlaxmi, one should chant ‘Shri Ishwarlaxmideyai namaha.’ If Laxminarayana is the family deity then one should chant ‘Shri Laxminarayanaya namaha.’

The following table shows how the dative case is to be applied. The dative case means ‘to’, i.e. ‘I pay obeisance to Lord Ganapati, to the female deity’).

  Name Form of the Name Example
The masculine gender
1. Ending in ‘a’ Rama Ramaya Narayanaya, Ganeshaya,
Vyankateshaya
2. Ending in ‘i’ Hari Haraye Marutaye (Maruti), Agnaye
(Agni), Ravaye (Ravi)
3. Ending in ‘u’ Vishnu Vishnave Gurave (Guru), Bhanave
(Bhanu)
4. Ending in ‘ru’ Pitru Pitre  
5. Others Hanumat Hanumate  
The feminine gender
1. Ending in ‘a’ Durga Durgayai Umayai, Ramayai
2. Ending in ‘i’ Parvati Parvatyai Sarasvatyai
3. Ending in ‘u’ Dhenu Dhenvai/
Dhenave
 
4. Ending in ‘ru’ Matru Matre  

A. Prefixing Shri or Om to the Name: Generally Shri or Om is prefixed to the Name. The importance of this prefix is given in ‘Science of Spirituality: Chapter 10 – Path of Mantra (Mantrayoga) point – Parts of a mantra’. The comparison of Shri and Om is given in the following table.

  Shri Omkar (Om)
1. What is it indicative of? Divine Energy
(Shakti), beauty,
virtues, etc.
Nirguntattva (The
unmanifest
principle
2. At what spiritual level % can a
    seeker use the prefix?
20-60* (Note 1) 30-70
3. Possibility of distress due to
    the energy generated by the
    pronunciation or remembrance
    of the prefix %
0 2** (Note 2)
4. Commonly prefixed to the
    Name of which deity
Almost all
deities
Shiva*** (Note 3)

Note 1 – Beyond a level of 60% often one concentrates on Bliss (Anand) instead of the word.

Note 2 – For creation of the manifest (sagun, the Great Illusion) from the unmanifest (nirgun, Brahman) tremendous energy is required. Such energy is generated by the repeating (chanting) of Omkar (Om). Hence, repeating (chanting) of Omkar by one whose spiritual level is not adequate to do so can cause distress to him.

Generally women are more likely to be affected than men. This point will be clear from the following. The frequencies generated from Om generate a lot of energy (heat) in the body. This does not affect the male reproductive organs as they lie outside the body cavity. However, in case of women this heat can affect the reproductive organs as they lie within the abdominal cavity. Thus women may experience distress. They may suffer from excessive menstrual flow, amenorrhoea, dysmenorrhoea, infertility, etc. Hence, it is advisable for women not to prefix Omkar to the Name unless recommended by the Guru; for example they may chant namaha Shivaya instead of Om namaha Shivaya. Otherwise they should use Shri as a prefix. Women having a spiritual level of more than 50% can prefix The Lord’s Name with ‘Om’. When repetition (chanting) of The Lord’s Name is undertaken for a particular reason, eg. for overcoming distressing energy, it is necessary to prefix ‘Om’ to The Lord’s Name. At such times, one should not stretch the pronounciation of ‘Om’.

Note 3 – As ‘Om’ has a lot of energy, if for a specific purpose, eg. if it is necessary to repeat (chant) the Name of some other deity for overcoming distressing energies, one should prefix it with ‘Om’, eg. ‘Om Gang Ganapataye namaha’ is repeated (chanted) instead of ‘Shri Ganapataye namaha’.

5.6 One should not repeat (chant) the name of a saint

One should not repeat (chant) the name of a saint for the following reasons.

  • A. No saint has recommended the chanting of His own Name or that of another. For instance, Tukaram Maharaj has not advised the chanting of Saint Dnyaneshvar’s Name.
  • B. Our history of thousands of years records no instance where a temple of a saint or a sage has been constructed. Only temples of deities have been erected. Nowadays however, a wrong trend of constructing temples of saints has set in.
  • C. Since the law of creation, sustenance and dissolution is applicable to saints as well, Their energy persists only for a limited period of a few hundred years. Thereafter They are unable to respond to one’s call. As against this, deities are eternally present from the time of creation of the universe till its dissolution.
  • D. Saints at the spiritual level (70%) of Energy (Shakti) are born to carry out a particular mission and for that They possess manifest energy. So if Their Names are chanted then the manifest energy could possibly cause distress to some. Contrary to this, since a deity mostly has unmanifest energy, chanting its Name does not cause any distress. Besides a seeker does not want energy, he wants Bliss (Anand) and Serenity (Shanti). [Saints of spiritual levels of 80% and 90% can impart spiritual experiences of Bliss and Serenity respectively.]

6. Where should one repeat (chant) The Lord’s Name?

Since everything is created by God Himself one can chant His Name anytime, anywhere. Chanting when carrying out day-to-day activities is a superior form of practising Spirituality in comparison to chanting done seated in one place. This is so, firstly, because with the former, spiritual practice becomes continuous. Secondly performing worldly activities along with chanting of The Lord’s Name renders them as good as not being in the Great Illusion (Maya). Thus, it helps one to remain in communion with The Lord under all circumstances. This is called sahajasthiti or sahajavastha.

7. Repeating (chanting) the Name with faith and righteous behaviour

The one who repeats (chants) the Name of Lord Viththal should observe restrictions. – Saint Tukaram

Implied meaning: If the one repeating (chanting) the Name of The Lord does not observe the restrictions of righteous behaviour then the entire spiritual practice is wasted in nullifying the resulting defects. Thus no spiritual progress occurs; for instance if one abuses then 30 rosaries (malas) of chanting (japa) are wasted; if one accepts a bribe then 500 rosaries of chanting are wasted.

8. Synchronising chanting with the breath

One remains alive due to respiration and not due to chanting. Hence, one should synchronise chanting with the breath by concentrating on the breath.

The benefits of chanting with the breath are as follows.

  • A. Nowadays, due to pollution of the atmosphere with raja and tama components, polluted thoughts invade the mind along with the breath and cause mental disturbance. Similarly, other undesirable thoughts also enter the mind. When chanting with concentration on the breath, the frequency of undesirable thoughts decreases.
  • B. Concentrating on the breath means capturing that moment of the present. On the contrary, entertaining any other thought means either contemplating on the past or the future. Since, it is essential for a seeker to continuously live in the present, it is necessary to concentrate on the breath.
  • C. Whilst chanting even if one gets a vision of God due to spiritual emotion (bhav), duality persists. As against this, when chanting with the breath, due to devotion in the Name one does not get a vision of the unmanifest (nirgun) God but one marches towards non-duality (advait), that is merges with the Name.

Detailed information on how to synchronise repetition (chanting) of The Lord’s Name along with the breath is given in ‘Science of Spirituality: Vol. 6 A – Repeating (Chanting) The Lord’s Name (Namasankirtanyoga)’

Those whose repetition (chanting) of The Lord’s Name occurs spontaneously, need not synchronise it with the breath.

9. Other thoughts during chanting

Despite experiencing Bliss with the Name, why does the mind wander towards other thoughts? What should one do when one cannot concentrate on chanting? Initially, due to impressions in the subconscious mind (chitta) stray thoughts enter the mind while chanting. But with practice there is a gradual reduction in these thoughts. One should keep in mind that concentration is the target, not the tool.

10. Methods of chanting in some religious orders

We have already discussed that from the stage of mental worship (upasanakand) repeating (chanting) The Lord’s Name is a superior form of practising Spirituality. Followers of all religious orders should chant the Names of their respective deities. That itself results in their spiritual progress. There is no need to change one’s religion. God chooses one to be born in that particular religious order which is most conducive for one’s spiritual progress. At a lower level the Name is related to the religious order. Later, all have the same religion – the Sanatan Dharma (Religion).

Religious order Name
1. Jain Navkar mantra (Om namo Arihantanam…)(Note 1)
2. Sindhi Shri Jhulelalaya namaha, Shri Nanakaya namaha,
Shri Sheravali Devyai namaha
3. Sikh Vahe Guru, Shri Vahe Guru, Sukhmani Saheb,
Japaji Saheb
Note 1 Om Namo Arihantanam (ॐ नमो अरिहंताणं ।) [Obeisance to the Arihant deities – ari means the six foes of the soul and hant means the annihilators]
  Namo Siddhanam (नमो सिद्धाणं ।) [Obeisance to saints (siddhas)]
  Namo Ayariyanam (नमो आयरियाणं ।) [Obeisance to teachers. The word ayyariya is the vernacular form of the Sanskrut word acharya meaning teachers. Those who are righteous in their conduct (achar) are teachers]
  Namo Uvajzhayanam (नमो उवज्‍झायाणं ।) [Obeisance to priests. The word uvajzhayanam is the vernacular form of the Sanskrut word upadhyaya meaning priests. Priests are preceptors of higher knowledge or authors of religious holy texts.]
  Namo loe savva sahunam (नमो लोए सव्‍व साहूणं ।) [Obeisance to all ascetics]
  Eso pancha namukkaro (एसो  पंच नमुक्‍कारो ।) [Obeisance to all these five]
  Savva pavappanasano (सव्‍व पावप्‍पणासणो ।) [is the annihilator of all sins.]
  Mangalanam cha savvesim (मंगलाणं च सव्‍वेसिं ।) [Of all that is auspicious]
  Padhamam havai mangalam (पढमं हवई मंगलम्‌ ।) [this chanting is the most auspicious.]
  The Digambar Jains chant the first five lines while the Shvetambar Jains chant all the nine.

Navakar means the nine openings in the body (navadvar). In the Ardhamagadhi language the word dvar (opening) was used synomymously with kar. This mantra means trespassing the nine doors, that is traversing the nine openings in the body. Information on these nine openings is given in ‘Science of Spirituality : Chapter 35 – Pranayam’.

11. Distress caused by repeating (chanting) The Lord’s Name

The reasons for it are given below.

  • A. Repeating (chanting) the wrong Name: If a seeker of the level of the pruthvi (absolute earth) element or apa (absolute water) element suddenly starts chanting the Name associated with the tej (absolute fire) element, (the sun) then the radiance generated through it may cause him distress
  • B. Problems caused by distressing energy: If one is affected by distressing energy like spirits, black magic (karni), etc. then initially one experiences discomfort even with appropriate chanting. However, it gradually subsides and finally stops. The cause for this initial distress is the tussle between the distressing energy troubling the individual and the pleasant energy generated by the chanting.

 

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What is the spiritual principle behind sacrifice?

Contents


 

1. Service

  • A. Service has to be unto the Absolute Truth (satseva). Unless the spiritual level rises to 60%, service is not rendered wholeheartedly. Until then it is only done intellectually as spiritual practice.
  • B. By giving precedence to satisfying someone else’s desires, gradually one’s needs decline and the seeker becomes more adept at following the path of Spirituality.
  • C. Service of the non-truth (asat); for instance service of the ailing implies considering illusion to be the truth. Also, the ego that ‘I am doing this service’ is present in such an attitude. As a result, as spiritual practice it is not of much use. As against this, to overcome ego, one serves the Guru. Besides with service of the non-truth (asat) a ‘give and take account’ is generated.

Greater details on service are provided in ‘Science of Spirituality: Vol. 3 – The disciple, point ‘Service of the Guru’.

2. Sacrifice

One needs to give up the attachment to the body, mind and wealth in order to make spiritual progress. Of these, sacrifice of wealth is the easiest as it can be done physically. One can give away all one’s wealth. However, the body and the mind cannot be given away so easily. Yet one can sacrifice them before giving up wealth. This means initially one can perform service physically and chant The Lord’s Name mentally. Later, only when a seeker progresses upto a spiritual level of 70% can he sacrifice wealth as well. This is akin to the trapeze artist in a circus. So long as the girl does not let go of the handlebar of the swing she is clutching on to, the man hanging upside down on the opposite swing cannot catch her. Similarly, so long as a seeker does not sacrifice everything, God does not take care of him.

Sacrifice does not mean giving away all of one’s belongings. Rather it is getting rid of one’s attachment to them. The Guru makes the disciple sacrifice the objects in his possession. Finally, when the attachment ceases, He showers him with plenty. Since Shivaji Maharaj had no attachment to the kingdom he had offered to Samarth Ramdas Swami, the Swamiji returned it to him.

प्रापणात्‌ सर्व भोगानाम्‌ परित्‍यागो विशिष्‍यते ।

Meaning: The joy in sacrificing pleasures is greater than in experiencing them.

न कर्मणा न प्रजया धनेन ।
त्‍यागेनैके अमृतत्‍वमानशु: ।। – कैवल्‍योपनिषद्‌, श्‍लोक ३

Meaning: One merges with the soul principle not through action, generation of progeny or amassing of wealth, but through renunciation alone . – Kaivalyopanishad, verse (shlok) 3

2.1 Donation (offering)

Donation should always be to the ‘deserving’, that is ‘to the one worthy of it’. In this world, there is none more worthy than saints. Hence, whatever one wishes to donate should be offered only to them. This is possible only for a seeker in the stage of mental worship (upasanakand). The one practising the inferior Path of Action (Karmayoga) gives alms to beggars, donations to schools and hospitals under the influence of emotions. Only merits are acquired from such actions. Seekers desirous of Liberation (mumukshu) want neither merits nor sins, since only heaven and not the Final Liberation (Moksha) is attainable with merits. Saints and Gurus are the manifest (physical) forms of the unmanifest God. Hence, any offering made to saints and the Guru is as good as an offering to God Himself. Thus offering back to God what belongs to Him does not create a ‘give and take account’ rather completes it. As such, the offering made unto saints reduces the accummulated account (sanchit) and increases the ability to withstand the effects of destiny. Moreover, neither is any ‘give and take account’ thereby created, nor are any merits acquired. Hence, whatever has to be offered should be given only to saints or for the mission of the Absolute Truth.

2.2 Repeating (chanting) The Lord’s Name, satsang (holy company), service and sacrifice

How one can achieve the successive stages of spiritual practice once the spiritual level increases, is explained in the following table.

Stage Spiritual level % Spiritual practice
1 40 Repeating (chanting) The
Lord’s Name
2 50 Holy company, paying obeisance
to saints and service of The
Absolute Truth
3 60 Offering to saints (sacrifice)

3. Spiritual love (priti) for others

Spiritual love means love devoid of expectations. In worldly love, there are expectations. By practising Spirituality percentage of the sattva component in an individual is augmented and one tends to make all the animate and inanimate creation around oneself, happy. Love becomes pervasive and one develops spiritual love for others. One is able to perceive the presence of The Supreme God in each and every object and the entire world becomes one loving family – ‘वसुधैव कुटुंबकम्‌ ।’. In order to achieve this, in the beginning, one has to make efforts to love others. For this, it is important to remain in satsang (holy company). At first, one begins to feel spiritual love for other seekers attending the satsang then for seekers from other sects, still later for non-seekers and finally for all living creatures.

4. Spiritual practice for the sake of society (samashti) and individual (vyashti) spiritual practice

The former is spiritual practice for the sake of society while the latter is confined to an individual seeker. According to the influence of time in the Kaliyug, the spiritual practice for the sake of society is 70% important while individual spiritual practice is only 30% important. Hence, to progress spiritually it is important to motivate as many people as possible from society, to practise Spirituality. This is service unto the Absolute Truth in the real sense. But for this one needs to increase one’s own spiritual level.

The following table gives the comparative importance of spiritual practice according to the four classes with reference to individual spiritual practice and that for the sake of society.

Class Importance of
individual Spiritual
practice %
Importance of Spiritual
practice % for the
sake of society
1. Brahman 40 60
2. Kshatriya 70 30
3. Vaishya 95 5
4. Shudra 99 1

4.1 Differences between individual spiritual practice and spiritual practice for the sake of society

These are given in the table below.

Individual
Spiritual practice
Spiritual practice
for the sake of society
1. Definition Efforts made for
individual spiritual
progress
Efforts made for spiritual
progress of the entire society
2. When is it useful? When circumstances
are conducive for
spiritual practice
Both when circumstances
are conducive and non-conducive
for spiritual progress
3. Probability of
generation of the
sectarian approach
in the seeker
More Less because the aim is to bring
about spiritual upliftment of all
constituents of society.
4. Proportion of the
seekers having
the desire to learn
Less More because one assists other
seekers and also receives
assistance from them.
5. Special feature Individual spiritual practices
[such as repetition (chanting) of
The Lord’s Name, study of
Spirituality, etc.] continues
6. Probability of
inflation of ego in
a seeker
More as the seeker
harbours the feeling
that ‘I am a seeker’
Less as the seeker is well
aware that other people are also
indulging in spiritual practice.
7. Animosity with
society
Mostly absent Present because to maintain
social well-being one at times
is compelled to oppose certain
elements (e.g. evildoers)
8. Efforts to bring
about social
upliftment
Absent With spiritual practice society
becomes righteous and
moralistic.
9. Spiritual progress Gradual Rapid because spiritual
practice facilitates in the
development of an expansive
attitude. (Finally the aim of
spiritual practice is to develop
the attitude that ‘the entire
universe is my home’.)
10. Importance in the
Kaliyuga (%)
30 70
11. Examples Path of Deliberate
Rigour (Hathayoga),
Repetition (chanting)
of The Lord’s Name,
Meditation, writing
biographies of saints
Worldwide spread of
Righteousness and Spirituality,
efforts towards social service,
task of protecting the Nation

5. Reading

  • 1. In Spirituality, the implied meaning has a greater importance than the literal one. If the implied meaning is not understood reading does not yield much benefit. In the phrase, ‘the sun rises in the east’, the literal and the implied meaning is the same. In Indian languages, when a friend who does not visit one frequently drops in after several months, one says, ‘How did the sun rise in the west today?’ Here, the literal and implied meanings differ. In the Shrimadbhagvadgita only Arjun could understand the implied meaning in Shrikrushna’s mind, due to his evolved spiritual level. No matter how many hundreds of periodic readings (parayans) of the Gita one undertakes, since one’s spiritual level is not as high as Arjun’s, one does not gain much spiritual benefit from it. It is for this very reason that despite the lifelong recitation of holy texts like the Dnyaneshvari, Dasbodh, etc. majority of the people have derived hardly any benefit from them.
  • 2. Seekers in the primary stage should read ‘just for the sake of reading’, that is in order to develop faith in Spirituality and its practice. They should read those holy texts which have minimal or no discrepancy between the literal and implied meaning. Later on, when one begins to get spiritual experiences after practising Spirituality, this reading proves useful for their confirmation. For instance, if one experiences a fragrance without an incense stick being lit, one neither feels surprised nor ponders over it, having already read about it and realises that it is a spiritual experience. For a seeker in the intermediate stage, reading is not essential as he now has faith in Spirituality but has not yet got spiritual experiences (anubhuti) of a higher level. Hence, he should ‘spare himself from reading’ and remember the quote of Jagadguru Shri Shankaracharya from the holy text Vivekchudamani 60 which says, ‘The web of words is a great forest which causes the mind to wander and creates confusion’ which implies that excessive reading too can result in confusion. Thus one should spend the time he would otherwise utilise for reading, for practising Spirituality.
  • 3. A seeker should always read literature written by saints, because it contains divine consciousness (chaitanya). There is 100% divine consciousness in texts written by saints as compared to 0-2% in case of spiritual texts written by other authors. Generally reading should be done according to the following steps. Ordinarily the further step is achieved in two-three years.A. Holy texts on Spirituality written by Dr. Athavale (publication of the Sanatan Sanstha). These books are simple and comprehensible.
    B. Shri Dasbodh: Various topics are discussed here as in textbooks.
    C. Hymns (abhangs) of Saint Tukaram
    D. Shri Eknathi Bhagvat
    E. Dnyaneshvari
  • 4. If one does not undertake spiritual practice simultaneously with reading, then there is a risk of one not making spiritual progress due to the vanity acquired as a result of voracious reading and knowledge gained thereof.

6. Satsang (holy company) and service of the Absolute Truth (satseva)

6.1 Meaning of satsang

In general, satsang means company (sanga) of the Absolute Truth (sat). In this holy text, it refers to spiritual meetings or holy company of seekers or saints. Sat stands for God or The Brahman principle. Thus satsang refers to an environment which is conducive for receiving the experience of God or Brahman principle and thus to Spirituality. Attending spiritual discourses (kirtans, pravachans), going to temples or places of worship, staying at places of pilgrimage (tirthakshetras), reading spiritual texts written by saints, remaining in the company of fellow seekers, visiting saints or the Guru, are examples of a satsang of a progressively superior quality.

6.2 Importance of a satsang

  • A. Once an argument took place between Sage Vasishtha and Sage Vishvamitra on the relative superiority of a satsang and penance. Sage Vasishtha proclaimed satsang to be superior whereas Vishvamitra was in favour of penance. To decide the winner of the debate, They went to God. The Lord said, “Only the divine serpent Shesh will be able to answer your question.” Then the duo went to Shesh. When They asked Shesh the question, He replied, “Please lighten the load of the earth on My head. Then I will think it over and answer Your query.” So, Vishvamitra made the following resolve, ‘I offer the benefit acquired as a result of a thousand years of my penance. May the earth on Shesh’s head shift a little.’ Yet, the earth did not stir. Then Sage Vasishtha expressed His resolve, ‘I now offer the benefit gained as a result of half a ghatka (twelve minutes) of being in satsang (holy company). May the earth lighten the load.’ The earth immediately moved upwards.
  • B. In spiritual practice the total importance of chanting The Lord’s Name effortfully is 5%, that of being in a satsang (spiritual meeting) and the company of saints is 30% and service of the Absolute Truth (saints) is 100%.

6.3 Benefits of a satsang

  • A. Majority of people in day-to-day life do not believe in Spirituality and its practice. Hence, they speak against it or ridicule it . As a result, the faith of a seeker in the initial stages may waver. Such doubts in a seeker’s mind are overcome by attending satsangs (spiritual meetings) regularly.
  • B. One of the benefits of group therapy is that competitiveness to recover faster develops amongst patients. This augments recovery. A similar benefit is derived by seekers from a satsang.
  • C. Through discussion seekers gather knowledge about the nature of problems faced by fellow seekers and how they are resolved by them or the Guru.
  • D. Proportion of the sattva component in seekers attending satsangs (spiritual meetings) is more than that in the general population. Due to the cumulative effect of the sattva component present in all the seekers, a sattvik (sattva predominant) environment is created. This helps to increase the proportion of the sattva component in a seeker even further.
  • E. A sattvik environment improves spiritual practice such as chanting, meditation, etc. of a seeker.
  • F. Sometimes pleasant energies accompany people with a sattvik temperament. Seekers also benefit from them.
  • G. At a satsang (spiritual meeting), one develops the feeling that other seekers attending it are ‘one’s own’. Hence, the younger generation starts living amicably forgetting the family feuds and rivalries which have existed for several generations. From this very feeling the attitude that ‘the entire universe is my home’ develops in due course of time. The effect of bad company (kusang) is exactly the opposite; hence, it is best avoided.

6.4 Although being in the company of saints and service unto Them is important, how to recognise whether they are genuine?

In the Kaliyug 98% of the so-called saints and Gurus are fake. So, one should not pay obeisance to such individuals. However, if one has faith in a particular person as being spiritually evolved then on his advice one must pay reverence to a particular saint, accepting that as the truth, and even serve Him.

7. Bhandara (the festival of distributing food for a spiritual purpose)

In addition to individual spiritual practice, participation in satsangs (spiritual meetings), workshops and study of spiritual texts, one should also attend festivals celebrated in the presence of saints (bhandaras). On such occasions, one gets a chance to hear others’ spiritual experiences besides acquiring information on various other religious sects. Most of all, one gets an opportunity to remain in satsang (holy company) and to perform service unto the Absolute Truth. One also begins to feel spiritual love (priti) for others. More information on bhandaras is given in ‘Science of Spirituality: Vol. 3 – The Disciple, point – Service of the Guru’.

8. Efforts to overcome defects in personality

Though Spirituality is a science beyond the five senses, mind and intellect yet till spiritual progress occurs, that is till there is dissolution of the mind and intellect, rather till the impressions in the subconscious mind are wiped off, the mind and intellect continue to function. That is precisely why till there is dissolution of a seeker’s mind and intellect he is flooded with thoughts and doubts, he develops defects in personality and reacts appropriately or inappropriately to a situation. The more the defects in personality the further one is drawn from God. At times a seeker gets dejected with the thoughts and doubts in his mind or because he is not experiencing Bliss. Distressing energies take advantage of these defects in personality to harass the seeker, at times they even take him away from spiritual practice. That is why along with spiritual practice one should decrease personality defects and then erase them completely. What efforts seekers need to make in this direction are given in the holy texts `Spiritual practice to overcome defects in personality and `Hynotherapy for happiness’ published by the Sanstha. Even if one progresses spiritually one should continue efforts to remove all personality defects.

9. Practise what is taught instantly

One should put whatever is taught, (e.g. the arrangement of deities in the temple at home, which Name one should chant, etc.) into practice immediately. According to the principle that thinking changes with behaviour and vice versa, spiritual emotion (bhav) is generated due to various actions in spiritual practice. Similarly, due to an increase in spiritual emotion, there is a proportionate growth in actions pertaining to spiritual practice (that is in other words an enhancement of spiritual practice).

10. Practise Spirituality whilst living in society

‘Repeating (chanting) The Lord’s Name’ is spiritual practice which should be undertaken whilst living in society itself. With the help of chanting, one can establish constant communion with The Lord even when performing all activities in the Great Illusion (Maya). This is possible because to attain detachment (vairagya) one has to renounce the materialistic life not with the body, but with the mind.

10.1 Obstacles faced by a seeker with the spouse and solutions to them

  • A. Eccentric behaviour: Should either of the marital partners behave eccentrically it is in all probability a sign of mental illness and requires treatment. If the person behaving abnormally is unwilling to take treatment, then he should just be observed with the stance of a spectator (sakshibhav). One may ask a spiritually evolved person (unnat) whether the eccentric behaviour has a spiritual cause and if so, the remedy for it.
  • B. Expecting others to practise Spirituality: Expecting one’s spouse to practise Spirituality so as to experience Bliss as one is experiencing, is wrong. According to destiny, some practise Spirituality while others do not. At the most, one may suggest spiritual practice to one’s spouse, twice or thrice. Even then if he / she, does not commence practising it; then the topic should just be dropped. Otherwise it results in quarrels. Always avoid alluring children with sweets, etc. to make them practise Spirituality or else, later, they will not practise it without bribes and will remain entangled in devotion with expectation (sakam bhakti). One should lovingly explain the importance of practising Spirituality, to them. Since children love to imitate others, if one practises Spirituality, usually they follow suit. Inspite of all this if they still do not practise Spirituality then one should discipline them by making them chant one or two rounds of malas (rosary) daily. This is similar to being stern with children when getting their homework done. Children in the age group of eight to fourteen years should be taught Spirituality through stories of child devotees like Dhruva, Pralhad, etc. Older children should be suitably taught according to their potential.
  • C. Not complementary to each other: When both marital partners practise Spirituality, instead of each partner saying that the other spouse should look after the household affairs just because he / she is practising Spirituality, the partner who is less evolved should behave in a way that complements the other’s progress. However, not withstanding this, the one who is more evolved should also share the responsibilities of household affairs, occassionally, (e.g. paying attention to the children) so that the one who is less evolved also gets time to practise Spirituality and to develop spiritually.
  • D. Inability to practise Spirituality due to children1. One is unable to devote much time to Spirituality till the children are seven to eight years old. This means that before planning to have a baby a seeker should think about this aspect. However, if either spouse wishes to have a child, then the other should accept this as the other’s wish (parechcha) and should duly bring up the child as one’s spiritual practice.2. Should one tell children to practise Spirituality instead of studying?: If a child loves Spirituality intensely and if he / she has the potential to practise it, then one should certainly tell him / her to do so. However, a majority of children should be asked to do both, study as well as undertake spiritual practice as studying means fulfilling one’s duty in the stage of a student. It is essential to educate every student so that he is able to support himself independently.
  • E. A joint family: In a joint family, there is distribution of work among its members. If one is unable to do one’s share of work on the day of the satsang (spiritual meeting), then one should compensate for it by doing extra work on other days so that others realise that one is amply compensating for one’s absence.
  • F. Following different spiritual paths: Instead of arguing on which spiritual path or whose Guru is superior, both should follow their respective paths.
  • G. A job involving travel or transfers: Instead of going through mental agony for not being able to attend satsangs (spiritual meetings), when travelling one should study Spirituality and as a part of spiritual practice and should carry out the mission of spreading it wherever one goes.

10.2 Obstacles faced by women seekers and solutions to them

In a male dominated society, in comparison with male seekers, women seekers have to face a variety of problems. Some examples of such problems and the possible solutions to them are given below.

A. Opposition from the husband / in-laws

  • A husband disliking his wife attending satsangs (spiritual meetings) or bhandaras (festivals of distributing food for a spiritual purpose): This happens when they are uninformed about what a satsang or bhandara is. If there is a possibility of opposition from the husband / in-laws, then, other seekers especially women should meet the seeker’s husband / in-laws and give them information on Spirituality. If this does not have any positive effect, then that seeker should practise Spirituality at home itself.
  • A husband feeling that his wife is being deceived by the apparent Spirituality of some Guru: In such cases, instead of attending satsang one should practise Spirituality at home.
  • A husband beating up his wife because she attends satsangs: In such a case too, she should remain at home and practise Spirituality.
  • A husband wanting his wife to stay at home and serve him instead of going to the ashram and bhandara to render service’: In such cases again she should practise Spirituality at home itself. Practising Spirituality at home, means repeating (chanting) The Lord’s Name, studying religious texts and serving in the house with the attitude that ‘the home itself is the ashram’. One will rarely find a woman with an attitude like Mirabai, who would attend satsangs despite facing several problems. Only rarely can a seeker like Mirabai sacrifice her home and attain sainthood.
  • A husband’s opposition to preparation of foodstuffs for the bhandara, at home: At times husbands resent their wives buying foodstuffs like papad and pickle for the family but preparing it themselves at home, for the bhandara. Some husbands prevent their wives from doing such chores because they are absolutely unaware of the Bliss one experiences whilst rendering such service unto God. At such times instead of preparing papad and pickles at home, one should help other seekers, when it is being prepared in their homes.
  • An atheist mother-in-law would reprimand her daughter-in -law, for wasting oil in lighting a lamp for the deity. When she would start performing ritualistic worship (puja), the father-in-law would mockingly shout, “Ganapati, take this durva, Shankar, take this bel.” When a seeker is faced with such derogatory behaviour it would be advisable for him to perform ritualistic worship mentally (manaspuja), do chanting, etc.instead.

B. Financial dependence: Some women seekers express their frustration about not being able to offer something for the mission of the Absolute Truth since their husbands do not give them money. There is no reason to feel upset about it. Instead of offering money, one can serve physically and mentally. God does not want money. He wants spiritual emotion (bhav). If other seekers purchase one’s ticket when one has to travel to another place for a satsang (spiritual meeting), bhandara (festival of distributing food for a spiritual purpse), etc. one need not feel grateful to them. Spending money for tickets or for fulfillment of other needs of seekers is itself the spiritual practice of seekers who are financially well-off.

C. Household responsibilities: Women shoulder the responsibilities of day-to-day cooking, taking care of the children’s studies, the dietary and medical care of the in-laws, etc. Managing to practise Spirituality while fulfilling worldly duties is quite a simple task. If all this is done systematically then often the husband too, will hardly have any reason to object to spiritual practice done in the spare time.

10.3 Difficulties faced by seekers who are students and solutions to them

  • A. The family not granting permission to attend a satsang or bhandara: Refer point ‘10.2 A’.
  • B. An examination or the illness of a family member: In such situations one should give priority to studies or to the nursing of the sick. Once these problems are resolved one should pay more attention to practising Spirituality. Nursing the sick should be done adopting the attitude of service unto God.
  • C. Feeling upset because the family members are not practising Spirituality: Refer point ‘Expecting others to practise Spirituality’.
  • D. No permission from the family to use domestic appliances from home for the satsang (spiritual meeting) or bhandara (festival of distributing food for a spiritual purpose): One should not feel unhappy when one is unable to bring appliances from home as other seekers do, for a satsang or bhandara. Family members refuse permission to lend their appliances because they do not understand the importance of these actions. However simply the thought of taking things needed for the satsang from home is sufficient. In the mission of the Absolute Truth a resolve (sankalpa) is sufficient, one need not actually perform the action. For an evil action, on the other hand, just a thought is insufficient, the action has to be carried out.
  • E. Financial dependence: Refer point ‘10.2 B’

11. Why is it said that spiritual practice should be kept secret?

One should not preach Spirituality to those who have no inclination for it. If one does talk about it there is a possibility that they may ridicule, express disbelief or feel bored whilst listening to it. However, it is all right if one discusses Spirituality and spiritual experiences (anubhutis) with those who have an inclination for it, since in the process both individuals can learn something from such a mutual discussion. That is why at satsangs (spiritual meetings) each one is encouraged to speak about his own spiritual practice and to share his spiritual experiences with others.

12. Obeying the Guru

Obedience towards the Guru is the monarch of all virtues in a disciple. By obeying the Guru’s orders, the disciple’s progress starts from the Adnya chakra instead of the Muladhar chakra. These chakras are situated in the subtle body approximately at the level of the midpoint between the eyebrows and the anus respectively. Once a disciple decides to do everything following his Guru’s intellect, instead of his own, dissolution of his intellect begins and he merges with the universal intellect of the Guru.

13. Ability to distinguish between right and wrong (vivek), detachment (vairagya), humility and the stance of a spectator (sakshibhav)

Progress occurs rapidly in this fashion and finally the only goal is ‘I now remain only to repay debts.’ This is the state in which one lives only to repay favours done by society onto oneself.

14. Spiritual progress

Spiritual progress depends upon the spiritual level attained through spiritual practice in one’s previous births, obstacles presently faced, motivation of the seeker and grace of the Guru (gurukrupa). Spiritual practice undertaken with motivation and perseverance helps in overcoming obstacles and in being blessed by the grace of the Guru. Thus one should make efforts to accomplish it.

How should one arrange deities in the temple at home?

Arrangement of deities 
Arrangement of deities in the temple at home

Contents


1. Ritualistic worship of God (puja)

1.1 Temple at home

If one does not have a temple at home or if there are no photographs or idols of the family deity and Lord Ganesh then they should be duly brought and installed in a temple at home. The deities should be arranged in the temple in the following manner: Lord Ganapati in the centre with the photographs or the idols of the male family deity and other male deities, e.g. Hanuman, Balkrushna, to His right and the female family deity and other female deities, e.g. Annapurna, to His left. In some pictures the female deity is depicted along with the male deity, e.g. Sitaram, Lakshminarayan, etc. Whenever She is depicted to the left of the male deity She bestows blessings onto devotees along with Her master. The left side symbolises the moon channel (chandranadi) and endows Serenity and Bliss. This is the saviour form of the female deity. In such photographs the male deity is considered as the main one and the picture is placed to the right of Lord Ganapati. In some pictures the female deity is depicted to the right of the male deity. The right side signifies the sun channel (suryanadi). Thus the deity is believed to be very powerful. This is the destroyer form of the female deity. The holy text Kalivilastantra narrates that deity Kali performs a dance on the chest of Lord Shiva. Here the female deity is more prominent than Her male counterpart. To conclude, when the female deity is to the right of the male deity She possesses more energy and should be considered as the principal deity. Hence such a picture is placed to the left of Lord Ganapati. One should keep the picture of the saviour or the destroyer form of the deity for the ritualistic worship as per one’s wish to undertake spiritual practice of that form. If a person having a Guru resides alone then he should keep only his Guru’s picture / photograph in the temple. If there are other family members then the Guru’s picture / photograph should be placed to the right of Lord Ganapati and should be followed by the male family deity’s photograph. Photographs or idols of the female family deity or other female deities should be placed to the left of Ganapati.

If one is not performing any ritualistic worship (puja) presently, then the method of doing so stepwise in the appropriate way is as follows.

  • A. Everyday the deities and the temple should be wiped with a cloth and two incense sticks should be lit in the morning as wells as in the evening.
  • B. Removing the previous day’s withered flowers and leaves (nirmalya) the deities should be wiped with a cloth. After offering flowers, incense sticks should be lit and waved in a clockwise motion. Then two wicks should be rolled into one and placed in a lamp containing clarified butter (ghee). The lit lamp should then be moved in a circular motion (arti) in the clockwise direction.
  • C. The idols should be bathed and the photographs wiped first with a wet and then with a dry cloth. Then sandalwood paste (gandha) should be applied to the deities and unbroken consecrated rice grains (akshata), flowers, turmeric and vermillion (kumkum) should be offered. This should be followed by lighting one incense stick and moving a lit lamp in a clockwise motion (arti). Finally, an offering of food (naivedya) should be made and one should pray for success in one’s spiritual practice.

2. Going to temples or places of worship

2.1 Importance of temples and places of worship

‘द्रष्‍टा दृश्‍यवशात्‌ बद्ध: । दृश्‍याभावात्‌ विमुच्‍ञते ।’ meaning the embodied soul (jiva, drashta) is bound by the view of external objects. In absence of the view it is free; for instance the embodied soul feels like eating a favourite dish so long as the food item is in its view. It is not so at other times. It is exposed to different scenes all the time. Then, when will the scenes cease? If we say that this will happen only during dissolution (pralay) of the universe, then the cessation of scenes will be meaningless as the embodied soul too will be dissolved at that time. According to the Vedanta the origin of external objects lies in the viewer. Then is there no way of liberating the embodied soul? There certainly is. The embodied soul has only one path available to acquire Liberation. It is to place before the viewer such a composite structure of scenes, that his very bondage to them will assist his Liberation. This means that his attitude (vrutti) will transgress from tama to raja and from raja to sattva. Such scenes which will liberate the viewer from the bondage are those of temples or places of worship. Discourses (pravachans and kirtans), singing the glory of the birth and mission of incarnations of The Lord and His divine play as also those of His devotees take place here. Upon hearing (shravan) these, contemplation (manan) occurs leading to intense yearning (nididhyas), culminating in Self-realisation (Atmasakshatkar).’ – Saint

2.2 How often should one go to the temple or place of worship?

One should go to the temple or place of worship to pay obeisance and should offer prayers atleast once a week in the beginning and everyday later on, so that one’s spiritual practice continues smoothly with the grace of The Lord.

2.3 Circumambulation (pradakshina)

Initially, one should circumambulate once and later on, several times depending on the deity of worship, for instance male deities in even numbers and female deities in odd numbers. Additional information on why cirmcumambulation for male deities such as Ganapati and Hanuman is done in odd numbers like twenty-one and five respectively is provided in ‘Science of Spirituality : Vol. 5 – Path of Devotion (Bhaktiyoga)’.

2.4 Repeating (chanting) The Lord’s Name in the temple

Since repeating (chanting) The Lord’s Name occurs at its best in a temple due to the sattvik (sattva predominant) environment one should chant atleast one round of the rosary (mala) there.

If the temple of one’s deity of worship (aradhyadevata) is not in the vicinity, then one should visit the temple of any other male deity instead of one’s male deity of worship or any other female deity instead of one’s female deity of worship and offer obeisance to it with the spiritual emotion that it is the very form of one’s deity of worship.

3. Following family traditions of spiritual practice (kulachar)

One should follow the family traditions of spiritual practice meticulously, for instance if Ganesh Chaturthi, Navaratra or any other festival is celebrated in the family then it should be continued. If it is customary to offer ‘oti’ (offering of coconuts and a piece of cloth) at the annual festival of a female deity, the practice should be continued. If the temple of the family deity is far, then one should go and pay obeisance to it at least once a year. If it is in the vicinity then one should pay obeisance to it more often.

4. Obeisance to the village deity (gramadevata)

Some people remember the village deity only once a year during its annual festival and the rest of the year, leave it to the priest or the non-Brahman priest of the temple. This is incorrect. The village deity is responsible for protecting all the villagers. Hence it is important to go to its temple and pay obeisance regularly.

 

Why is intellect an obstacle in spiritual progress?

Why is intellect an obstacle in spiritual progress?

Contents

 


 

1. Satsangs (spiritual meetings)

1.1 Individual spiritual practice (sadhana)

Spirituality is a science of spiritual experience. A spiritual experience (anubhuti) cannot be obtained without practising Spirituality. Hence, at the discourses / satsangs (spiritual meetings) special attention is paid to individual spiritual practice. In fact, individual spiritual progress is the focus of these discourses / satsangs.

For spiritual progress one needs to practise Spirituality and in order to be able to practise it regularly, faith is essential. The faith of a seeker in the primary stage grows with intellectual knowledge. However, for a seeker in the advanced stage, faith increases with spiritual experiences which are beyond the comprehension of the intellect. So, in these discourses / satsangs theoretical information is provided to augment the intellectual knowledge of the seeker and to acquaint him with spiritual experiences beyond the intellect, experiments are conducted.

1.2 Nature of the satsang

Satsangs conducted by Sanatan Sanstha are generally of a duration of an hour and a half. This time is utilised as explained in the following table. If the duration of the satsang is one or two hours then accordingly suitable changes are made in it.

Topic Minutes
1. Praying and chanting 3
2. Narration of spiritual experiences and
introduction of new seekers
5
3. Theoritical discussion from holy texts
published by the Sanstha
20
4. Demonstration of first-aid techniques 10
5. News from subtle world and writings of
Dr. Jayant Athavale published in the Daily and
Weekly Sanatan Prabhat
10
6. Spiritual viewpoints from the Daily Sanatan
Prabhat
5
7. Clarification of doubts 10
8. Evaluation of service rendered in the previous
week
5
9. Discussion of mistakes made by seekers and
learning from them
10
10. Planning of service for the next week 10
11. Gratitude 2
Total 90

Detailed information on this is given below.

A. Commencement with a prayer

It is because of the grace of the Guru or God that one gets an opportunity to attend satsang. To derive maximum benefit from the satsang, it is started by praying thus, ‘O Gurudev/Lord, please endow me with the intellect to understand what is taught at the satsang which I have got a chance to attend solely due to Your grace. I earnestly pray unto You so that I comprehend what is taught at the satsang not only intellectually but also with the divine consciousness that it gives.’

B. Group chanting

After offering prayers, the Names of Lord Ganapati and Lord Krushna are chanted for three minutes. This helps in two ways, by enhancing the sattva component in the atmosphere so that what is taught is grasped well and by removing the obstacles caused by distressing energies.

C. Theory from the holy texts

Theoretical spiritual knowledge is imparted through various holy texts and discourses. However Spirituality is a practical science. The faster one puts this theoretical knowledge into practice the faster one advances towards The Lord. One is able to merge with The Lord faster if one makes attempts to overcome defects in personality, assuage the ego and enhance devotion and spiritual emotion (bhav) unto The Lord. To facilitate this, on a daily basis points are taught from the holy texts published by the Sanstha viz. ‘Spiritual practice to overcome defects in personality’, ‘Spiritual practice to overcome the ego’, ‘Spiritual practice for awakening spiritual emotion’ and ‘Teachings of H.H.Bhaktaraaj Maharaj’. Seekers derive benefit from celebrating festivals and observing vowed religious observances (vrats) if they are done correctly from the spiritual viewpoint. That is why this is emphasised upon at the satsangs.

D. Demonstration of first-aid techniques

Social upliftment and national security are important aspects of spiritual practice for the sake of Spirituality; so every seeker needs to be trained in first-aid.

E. Subtle news

News from the subtle world is published in the Sanatan Prabhat time and again to alleviate blind faith and allay fears regarding distressing energies such as ghosts, to prevent deception by fake sorcerers and to teach seekers how to pray unto deities to get rid of distressing energy problems. Study of the subtle dimension gives the information necessary to combat distressing energies.

F. The spiritual angle in the ‘Sanatan Prabhat’

‘Suggestions to seekers’ are published regularly in a special column of the Sanatan Prabhat. It is important to practise them, record the experiences derived from them and study the outcome. One should also analyse whether one has made any attempts to change one’s thinking, behaviour or attitudes inspired by the campaign against denegration of deities, editorials, etc. in the periodicals.

G. Clarification of doubts

Many will wonder what is the need of satsang (spiritual meeting) despite numerous lectures or spiritual discourses being conducted and thousands of holy texts on Spirituality being available everywhere. The reason is that no matter how much theoretical information is provided at the discourse / satsang one may not be able to practise Spirituality properly without clarification of one’s doubts. It is not possible to clarify one’s doubts by asking questions at general spiritual discourses (kirtans, pravachans), lectures or simply by reading holy texts. Therefore the nature of these discourses / satsangs is not to give a masterly discourse. People are encouraged to ask questions and almost half the time is spent in clarification of specific doubts.

Importance of asking questions: Since this subject is to be taught through questions and answers, it is important for each one to participate wholeheartedly. One should not hesitate to ask questions, as otherwise they will be the losers. Our Guru H.H. Bhaktaraj Maharaj used to say ‘Only the curious (jidnyasu) are really deserving of knowledge’. Only if one is curious does one feel the need to ask questions like ‘why ?’ and ‘how ?’. If one has not understood some point discussed at a satsang then before the completion of the analysis of that point and prior to the beginning of a new topic, one should ask questions related to it so that it is clarified. Otherwise, when the next point is being discussed the previous one will go on lingering in one’s mind. Consequently, the person will not be able to pay proper attention to the next point.

Suggestions for those who wish to ask questions

  • One should not ask worldly questions. Only questions pertaining to Spirituality are answered at the lectures / satsangs. Satsang is not a court (darbar) of a bhagat (type of a sorcerer) where solutions to worldly problems like inability to get married, to secure a job and so on are given. There is yet another motive behind not answering worldly questions. It is to teach the seeker to ignore worldly problems, that is problems arising out of the Great Illusion (Maya).
  • One should not ask questions just for the sake of asking them. At one satsang a person not practising Spirituality, asked, “How many definitions does the Final Liberation (Moksha) have ?” just for the sake of asking a query.
  • First ask those questions which will be more useful for individual spiritual practice like, what practice should one follow ? Is my spiritual practice appropriate ? How can one overcome obstacles encountered in spiritual practice ? What is the interpretation of my spiritual experience ? What is the implied meaning of spiritual literature ? And so on and so forth.
  • The questions should be of benefit to others as well. This means that the questions asked mainly should be such that they enable everyone to learn something useful about spiritual practice.
  • Once everyone has finished asking questions related to spiritual practice, one may ask general questions on Spirituality.
  • Since the lecture / satsang has limitations of time one should ask questions so as to make maximum use of the available time.

H. Discussion of errors made by seekers and learning from them

Often one makes mistakes either due to personality defects or because one does not follow the recommended procedures in a task. The Lord is perfect hence He does not make mistakes. Since we too wish to attain perfection like Him, we need to become aware of our mistakes so that they are not repeated in the future. Besides we also learn from others’ mistakes. This is the advantage of group discussion of mistakes of seekers.

I. Gratitude

Harbouring the spiritual emotion that one has been blessed with spiritual guidance at the satsang and has grasped it with the intellect only because of The Lord’s grace, one should express gratitude unto The Lord or the Guru. Otherwise there is a chance of inflation of ego that ‘I have learnt something at this satsang’.

Do not use perfumes, scented oils, etc: At times, deities manifest themselves at a satsang. During such times, some seekers have a subtle spiritual experience of some fragrance. Hence, the rule that seekers coming to the satsang should not use perfumes, etc. so that there are no doubts about such an experience being spiritual in nature. Some seekers get this spiritual experience within just five or six months of their attending satsangs.

2. Spiritual practice (Sadhana)

Spiritual practice refers to the day-to-day efforts made in pursuit of spiritual progress.

2.1 Importance

Once a scholar (pandit) was crossing a river in a canoe, along with the boatman. They spent a while in conversation. The scholar referred to a number of holy texts and asked the boatman if he had studied them. When the boatman replied in the negative, the scholar commented that since he had not studied the holy texts his life was wasted. As this discussion continued, the canoe sprang a leak and water rapidly entered it through the crevices. Seeing this, the boatman asked the scholar, “Maharaj can you swim ? Our boat is going to sink now.” The scholar replied, “I have read several books on swimming and gathered a lot of information on it, but I cannot swim.” Since only the boatman could swim, he survived. The scholar’s theoretical knowledge was of no use to him. Similarly, to be able to cross this vast ocean of worldly life happily, one should practise Spirituality and not just acquire verbal knowledge.

2.2 Spiritual practice with expectation (sakam) and without expectation (nishkam)

If one practises Spirituality with expectation then desires are fulfilled. Even if done without expectation, in addition to spiritual evolution the desires of a seeker may also be fulfilled because The Lord has promised, ‘I will fulfill the desires of that devotee of Mine who is selflessly devoted unto Me’.

3. Qualities essential for practising Spirituality

3.1 Belief, faith, spiritual practice, spiritual emotion (bhav) and Self-realisation (Atmanubhuti)

It is the embodied soul doing spiritual practice (jivatma) and the God realised soul (Shivatma) that get the spiritual experiences and not the five senses, mind and intellect. When this is so, one may question the necessity of organising discourses or satsangs in which the five senses, mind and intellect are being used. The answer to this is simple – to realise the importance of Spirituality and to begin its practice first one needs to have belief and that is created through verbal information. When one starts practising Spirituality with belief one gets spiritual experiences. It is only after one gets spiritual experiences that faith develops. To make spiritual progress ‘faith’ is the only currency. To put it metaphorically the currency in the U.S. is a dollar, while in India it is a rupee. If one wants to buy something in the U.S. then one can use only dollars. Similarly, if one wishes to make spiritual progress faith alone is essential and this currency should certainly be powerful and worthy. Normally one believes in one’s bank balance because one can withdraw money from the account according to one’s need. One should repose even greater faith in God and Spirituality.

During the entire ritualistic worship (puja) it is faith which is the most important. God loves most the one who has the most faith in Him. – Shri Eknathi Bhagvat 27:287

Now let us see the differences between belief and faith.

Belief Faith
1. What does one get? Information Spiritual knowledge (Dnyan)
2. Nature a. Verbal
b. Intellectual
a. Beyond words
b. Beyond intellect
3. How is the information/
knowledge acquired?
Through the five
senses, mind and
intellect
The embodied soul(jiva)
acquires the knowledge from
the soul, without the use of
five senses, mind and
intellect
4. What is the information
/ knowledge referred
to as?
Experience Spiritual experience
5. Who acquires the
information / spiritual
knowledge?
Embodied soul
(jiva)
Embodied soul doing
spiritual practice (jivatma)
or God realised soul
(Shivatma)
6. Significance from the
point of view of
spiritual progress
2% 98%

Let us see how belief, developed through verbal information, leads to spiritual practice which in turn leads to spiritual experiences and finally how faith increases and culminates in Self-realisation (Atmanubhuti). As evident from the figure below as faith, spiritual practice and spiritual experiences go on increasing, spiritual emotion (bhav) develops. This results in Self-realisation, that is a state of Bliss.

 

From this it will be clear that the tool to develop spiritual emotion and attain the Blissful state is none other than spiritual practice. To embark on this journey one first requires belief which is generated through words. Hence the need to organize discourses or satsangs! An example of an inferior spiritual experience is fragrance in the absence of an external stimulus which is related to the pruthvi (absolute earth) element. A moderate spiritual experience is seeing a vision related to the tej (absolute fire) element or hearing a sound associated with the akash (absolute ether) element. A superior spiritual experience is the experience of Bliss.

Faith (shraddha) and spiritual emotion (bhav): ‘Neither do our merits save us nor sins destroy us, only spiritual emotion can save us. This is because both merits and sins being part of the Great Illusion (Maya) are imaginary and have no real existence. (Only Brahman is the Absolute Truth, everything else is the Great Illusion). Spiritual emotion (bhav) however is not imaginary; it is reality. Reality means Brahman and spiritual emotion is an experience of That Brahman itself. Some equate spiritual emotion with faith. That is incorrect as faith is said to be three fold (sattvik, rajasik or tamasik) depending on the three components (trigunas), while spiritual emotion is beyond these components (trigunatit). A real disciple has only spiritual emotion. The spiritual emotion in him gradually expands and he attains the status of the one beyond spiritual emotion (bhavatit). One achieves a state of being beyond spiritual emotion, because of great yearning for God. At first, since God is viewed as separate from oneself, one is in a state of duality (dvait). Later, once the goal of Self-realisation is reached one also goes beyond spiritual emotion as one is now in a non-dual (advait) state. The Guru is said to be beyond spiritual emotion. A quote says, ‘भावातीतं त्रिगुणरहितं सद्‌गुरुं तं नमामि ।’ – I salute You O Sadguru, You who are beyond spiritual emotion and devoid of the three components (trigunatit). – H.H. Kane Maharaj, Narayangaon, Pune district, Maharashtra

By now, one must have realised the importance of generation of spiritual emotion for attaining Self-realisation (Atmanubhuti).

3.2 Listen to the spiritually evolved

First, let us discuss what spiritual practice should be undertaken by those who have not been practising any. This will also help those who are already practising Spirituality to decide whether the practice they are following is appropriate or not. If one’s spiritual practice is inappropriate then a conscious attempt should be made to change today itself. If one has been undertaking some spiritual practice for quite sometime, then it becomes difficult to change it all of a sudden. A person who had been chanting the Name of Lord Pandurang for some years using his own intellect was advised by two saints not to chant the same but to chant the Name of his family deity instead. Initially, for five to six months, he found it difficult. His feelings were first of attachment. ‘How can I leave Lord Pandurang ?’ But later it was possible to give it up. If he were to continue chanting the Name of Lord Pandurang influenced by his emotions instead of listening to saints then he would never have met his Guru so early.

3.3 Overcome the obstacle of the intellect

The point to be noted above is that Dr. Athavale was able to make spiritual progress because he listened to saints instead of practising Spirituality by chanting the Name of Pandurang using his own intellect. The intellect, being more gross than the soul principle (atmatattva), is also an obstacle. This is a difficult concept for an average person to understand since in worldly life one is told ‘make use of the intellect’. One feels that the intellect is the only medium of comprehension and that without it one cannot understand anything. However, one cannot understand the subtle dimension with the intellect. On the contrary, the intellect takes wrong decisions in the field of Spirituality and misleads one from one’s target. Hence, it is called an obstacle. Clarification of doubts helps the intellect to take correct decisions for enhancement of spiritual growth. Therefore at the satsangs (spiritual meetings) emphasise is given to clarification of doubts. Since the intellect is ignorance from the Great Illusion, it is the causal body (karan deha). Then how can one attain God with that intellect? Thus, despite being convinced of the importance of Spirituality even after listening to a few lectures, read holy texts repeatedly, then that is nurturing ignorance too, Sacrifice of the intellect itself means devotion. What is the use of the intellect then? It is meant for converting itself to pure (sattvik) intellect by listening to discourses (shravan), contemplation (manan) and intense yearning (nijadhyas). This intellect does not prove to be of any use in achieving Self-realisation unless one surrenders oneself to the Sadguru. To comprehend even this, one requires intellect. This perhaps is its only use!

3.4 Perseverance

Doing anything with ceaseless perseverance goes against the natural tendency of ‘resolve and doubt’ of the human mind. Hence, a lot of beginners but only a few finalists are noticed in Spirituality. The following table illustrates the percentage of people giving up various activities midway due to sheer lack of perseverance.

Discontinuing midway
the following activity
Duration and proportion %
3
months
6
months
1
year
2
years
1. Medical treatment for diseases like
tuberculosis, diabetes and hypertension
inspite of undergoing suffering
30 50 70 80
2. Postures, exercise, etc., done to
prevent physical suffering
30 50 70 80
3. Learning arts like music, dance, etc.
which endow happiness
10 30 50 70
4. Acquiring knowledge which is useful
and essential for living
10 30 50 70
5. Attending satsang (spiritual meeting)
weekly
30 50 70 80
6. Stepwise and regular spiritual practice
of the next stage
50 70 80 100
(Note 1)

Note 1 – Out of a thousand practising Spirituality approximately one seeker continues after a period of two years and out of ten thousand approximately one continues even after ten years.

3.5 Do not go in search of a Guru

If one’s radio or television set breaks down then one gets it repaired from a mechanic from that field. Similarly, to make spiritual progress one requires a Guru or a person with authority in that field. As one practises Spirituality one begins to understand the subtle dimension which is beyond the five senses, mind and intellect. Without the ability to sense subtle vibrations one can never decipher whether a saint or Guru is genuine. Hence one need not go in search of a Guru. A Guru too seeks a disciple, because guiding the disciple is His mission. If a teacher feels that an intelligent student is capable of achieving excellence and bringing glory to his school then the teacher goes out of his way to help that student. In the same way, if one continues to practise Spirituality then the Guru Himself comes forward to help the disciple. Thus rather than a person choosing his Guru himself, the Guru’s acceptance of one as the disciple is of greater significance.

What is the key to obtain everlasting happiness?

What is the key to obtain everlasting happiness?

Contents


1. Importance of discourses and satsangs (spiritual meetings)

Several people listen to stories, discourses, lectures on Spirituality and read holy texts as well. But the science of Spirituality is knowledge of The Infinite. As such, the endeavour to understand it shall go on eternally. With regard to Spirituality it is important not merely to understand the theory but to realise its significance in one’s life and to actually undertake spiritual practice so as to experience it. In brief, it is important to ‘live’ Spirituality. Spirituality is a science which can be learnt through practice and spiritual experiences (anubhutis). However, one will not get spiritual experiences without actually practising Spirituality. Hence, in these articles we will mainly discuss the ‘individual spiritual practice’ that one should follow.

2. Spirituality and its importance

To understand the meaning of Spirituality and its importance in human life, first and foremost we should acquaint ourselves with the objective of living beings and that of man.

2.1 Objective of living beings – to experience the everlasting and Supreme Bliss (Anand)

Every living being (jiva), from the smallest insect or ant to the more evolved human being, is constantly in the quest for the supreme quality of happiness. However, schools and universities do not teach how to acquire this happiness. Happiness which is everlasting and of supreme quality is called Bliss. The science which teaches how to acquire Bliss is termed the science of Spirituality.

2.2 Reasons for rebirth of man

Man is born repeatedly for two reasons. The first, that is 65%, to experience happiness and sorrow according to destiny and the second, that is 35%, to make spiritual progress so as to acquire Bliss (Anand). Each one of us harbours at least some desire to return to Blissful Brahman from Which we have been created. We will discuss further what one should do to achieve this goal.

2.3 Happiness and unhappiness in the life of a human being

Most people experience the truth of what Tukaram Maharaj has said, ‘Happiness seems as minute as a grain of barley while unhappiness seems as huge as a mountain’. In an average person’s life happiness is 25% and unhappiness is 75%. Since most people do not know how to attain Bliss, each one tries to acquire atleast temporary happiness through the five senses, mind and intellect, by way of such things as eating one’s favourite dish, listening to music of one’s choice and so on. Similarly, one makes efforts to overcome unhappiness by taking medicines during an illness, getting the television set repaired when it breaks down, etc.

2.4 Causes of happiness and unhappiness

Causes of happiness and unhappiness according to various paths of Spirituality are as described in the table below.

Path Cause of happiness or unhappiness
1. Path of Action
(Karmayoga)
One experiences happiness due to merits
and unhappiness due to sins
2. Path of Devotion
(Bhaktiyoga)
Remembering God is happiness and
forgetting Him is unhappiness
3. Path of Knowledge
(Dnyanyoga)
There is no happiness or unhappiness.
Everything is Brahman itself.

The causes of happiness and unhappiness may be physical, psychological or spiritual. Examples of these are given below:

  • A. Physical: Physical distress due to an ailment
  • B. Psychological: Mental distress upon deception by someone
  • C. Spiritual: Unhappiness arising from failure in an examination despite working hard, failure in arranging a suitable match despite maximum efforts, etc.

The causes of happiness too, are physical, psychological and spiritual. However, one usually does not think about them as one does not feel the need to do so!

2.5 Ability to recognise through the intellect the cause of unhappiness which lies beyond the intellect, in the spiritual realm

If any of the following two factors is applicable, then usually the cause for unhappiness is spiritual.

  • A. Poor success despite maximum efforts.
  • B. When several members of a family suffer simultaneously. For instance, in a family, one son was a psychiatric patient, the second was divorced by his wife within ten days of marriage, the third gave up his studies midway and they were unable to arrange the marriage of the daughter who was beautiful, well educated and earning a good salary. All this was causing mental stress to the parents. In short, the entire family was unhappy. In such cases, usually the unhappiness is due to dissatisfied deceased ancestors’ souls.

2.6 Importance of Spirituality

From the above discussion one will realise that this subject is useful for both, those who have worldly pursuits as well as those with an inclination for Spirituality. In other words, Spirituality is useful to each and everyone of us.

  • A. In the case of patients, if one is to explain briefly so as to convince one intellectually, then spiritual remedies are extremely important in the following two types of illnesses:
    1. Man can do nothing about old age, incurable illnesses and death. In such cases, if a patient is depressed, then to overcome the despair, this may be used as a therapy to cultivate a philosophical attitude towards it, in him.
    2. In cases of obsessive compulsive disorder, a mental illness, it is useful to keep the patient’s mind preoccupied.
  • B. In the life of an average person 20% problems occur due to physical and / or psychological reasons. Another 30% are due to spiritual as well as physical and / or psychological reasons. The remaining 50% are solely spiritual in origin. This means that with the practice of Spirituality 80% problems can be resolved or the ability to endure them by accepting one’s destiny can be acquired through it.
  • C. Those desirous of worldly pleasure: Practising Spirituality with expectation (sakam sadhana) gives happiness and reduces unhappiness as well.
  • D. Those in search of Bliss (Anand): They experience the Blissful state by practising Spirituality without expectation (nishkam sadhana). Besides, their worldly unhappiness is also alleviated.

2.7 Physical sciences and the science of Spirituality

Why, one may ask, in this age of scientific research and progress, are we ignoring the modern physical sciences and going in the supposedly reverse direction, to the study of the science of Spirituality? According to the saying ‘Old is gold’, to make spiritual progress it is the eternal science of Spirituality alone and not the modern physical sciences which is useful. To understand why the physical sciences are not useful let us compare the physical sciences and Spirituality. However, to make worldly progress one should certainly make use of the physical sciences along with spiritual practice.

  Physical sciences Science of Spirituality
1. Medium of obtaining
the information/
spiritual knowledge
The external five sense
organs and the internal
sense organs i.e. mind
and intellect
The sixth sense organ
i.e. Jivatma and
Shivatma Note 1
2. Subject a. The Great Illusion
(Maya) Note 2
b. Various things
c. All created objects
Brahman, the soul

Only one thing
The Creator

3. Method of
obtaining
information/
knowledge
a. Relative to an object
(relative to place,
time, thing, etc.)
b. Understanding the
difference between
various objects.
Unrelative to an object
(not relatve to place,
time, thing, etc.)
Perceiving the similarity
or oneness between
various objects
4. In what state does
one obtain the
information /
knowledge
acquired ?
Waking state a. The superconscious
state (samadhi)
b. Natural state of
communion with God
(sahajavastha)
c. Liberation while
being still embodied
(sadeha mukti)
5. Duration of an
experience and a
spiritual experience
(anubhuti)
a. Short

b. Whatever is learnt
through experience
in this birth has to
be learnt again in
next birth e.g.
writing, reading, etc

a. Depends on the
duration of the
samadhi
b. Continuous
(sahajavastha)
c. External (Liberation) Whatever is learnt thr-
ough spiritual experience
in this birth is carried
forward to the next birth
6. Complete / incomplete
and true / untrue
The ‘truth’ in science
constantly undergoes
changes. Hence,
edition of books
require improvisation.
In brief, science is
incomplete and untrue.
Knowledge of the soul
principle never changes.
The truth found in
Spirituality is eternal
and beyond time. Hence
the Vedas, Upanishads
etc., have reprints but no
revised editions.
7. Contentment Absent Present as one
experiences Bliss
8. Definition ‘विगतं ज्ञानं यस्‍मात्‌ तत्‌ ।’
meaning that from
which knowledge
(dnyan) has departed
is science (vidnyan) is
how the word science
can be humorously but
aptly defined. Note 3
‘सा विद्या या विमुक्‍तये ।’
means only that which
liberates is called
knowledge (vidya /
dnyan). This knowledge
is acquired only through
the science of
Spirituality.

Note 1Jivatma refers to the embodied soul (jiva) which has experienced the soul principle to a very small extent, i.e. has experienced inferior spiritual experiences. Inferior spiritual experiences are those related to the five senses, mind and intellect, for instance, experiencing a fragrance in the absence of an incense stick, receiving an answer to some question. Shivatma on the other hand refers to the embodied soul which is in the process of merging into The Supreme God (Shiva), i.e. one which has experienced superior spiritual experiences. Superior spiritual experiences refer to higher supernatural powers (siddhis), Bliss (Anand) or Serenity (Shanti). Detailed description of supernatural powers and inferior and superior spiritual experiences is given in ‘Science of Spirituality : Chapter 41 – Spiritual Progress, Chapter 42 – The Spiritually Evolved’ and ‘Spiritual Experiences of Seekers : Vol. 1 to 8’.
Note 2 – Hence this is like running after a mirage. The truth is never found in its pursuit.
Note 3 – According to Shri Dasbodh the real meaning of vidnyan is as follows –
The stance of a spectator is the action of the subconscious mind (chitta). Going beyond the mind (unmani), that is beyond the stance of the spectator is non-action (nivrutti). Where the awareness that I am the knower dissolves, is vidnyan (pure knowledge). – 7.4.50
At the level of Parabrahman both ignorance and knowledge vanish. Even pure knowledge (vidnyan) dissolves. [Only non-duality (advait) persists.] – 7.4.51

2.8 Atheism

‘Spirituality is not my cup of tea’ is what most atheists feel. This is because they believe that spiritual progress is something related to God. The reasons for this belief are as given below.

  • A. Nearly 90%-95% people who practise Spirituality in order to make spiritual progress follow the Path of Devotion (Bhaktimarg). Hence, some people wrongly assume that to make spiritual progress devotion towards God is necessary and since they do not believe in God they feel that they cannot develop devotion. Thus they conclude ‘this is not meant for us’. They do not realise that there are paths other than that of devotion for spiritual upliftment. Even saints who followed the Sankhya philosophy, worthy of being the masters of atheists, made spiritual progress and attained the Final Liberation (Moksha). Only 7 out of 195 verses in the Yogasutras by Bhagvan Patanjali pertain to God. The remaining 188 verses do not make even a passing reference to God. Should these atheists follow them, they too could definitely make spiritual progress and attain the Final Liberation.
  • B. The second important reason for confusion among the atheists is that they have not understood the real meaning of the words ‘Final Liberation’ (Moksha) and ‘spiritual progress’. In brief, making spiritual progress means attainment of the experience of Bliss (Anand) which is beyond happiness and unhappiness. Experiencing that state continually is the Final Liberation.

2.9 Meaningless rationalism

Functions of each of the five sense organs, five motor organs, mind, subconscious mind and intellect are different; for instance the mind perceives emotions while the tongue recognises taste. It is just impossible to intellectually measure such subjective experiences. Just as it is impossible to measure the proportion of acidity in a substance with the help of a weighing scale, so is this. Therefore it is incorrect to think that ‘only that which the intellect understands is true’. Spiritual experiences obtained during spiritual evolution too are beyond the comprehension of the intellect. What then is the use of rational thinking here? Just as auras, frequencies, distressing and pleasant energies, etc. are beyond the comprehension of the intellect, so is God. If this is so, then one will wonder why there is a need to read this holy text at all ! The answer to this is that though the taste of sugar is beyond the comprehension of the intellect, yet to experience its taste one needs to obtain it by using one’s intellect. Similarly, one can enjoy the Bliss of Self-realisation which is beyond the intellect by practising Spirituality with the help of the intellect. According to a quote, ‘The Upanishads were not written to convince the intellectual about spiritual knowledge on the basis of rational thinking but were written to lead the curious seeker (jidnyasu) on to the path of spiritual experiences (anubhutis)’.
Some rationalists do not realise that it is wrong to write or speak on any subject without first studying it. A question from a book published by a women’s liberation organisation asks, ‘We worship female deities along with male deities, when performing ritualistic worship (puja), then, why don’t we exclude female deities from ritualistic worship for four days of their menstruation?’ This has been written by one who is unaware of the meaning of a male and female deity. To put it briefly, since deities do not have physical bodies and since menstruation is a function of the physical body, the question itself is unscientific and ridiculous. However, the temple of Kamakshi, the famous female deity of the sorcerers (tantriks) in Assam, India is customarily kept closed for four days in a year because that active idol has been humanised. Similarly, in the Vaishnav sect, the temple is kept closed for reasons such as ‘now God is having His meal, He is sleeping’, etc. The meaning of God is clearly given in ‘Science of Spirituality : Vol. 7 – Supreme God, God, Incarnations & Deities’. Since last few years, rationalists have been constantly indulging in adverse publicity about Righteousness (Dharma), deities, saints, Spirituality, religious rituals and the Brahmans (priests) who perform them. Sanatan has commenced opposing this on various levels. As a part of this, Sanatan has even published a book ‘Ego of Rationalists’ in Marathi which explains the statements made by rationalists, according to the science of Spirituality. This too illustrates the futility of their concepts.
The founder of Sanatan Sanstha, Dr. Athavale is no less a rationalist than the ‘so-called’ rationalists. The research on hypnotherapy by Dr. Athavale which has won him laurels the world over, is also based on rational evidence. In Spirituality too, he makes use of rational thought wherever necessary. However, when the journey beyond the intellect commences, undue insistence on using the intellect proves to be wrong. In short, it would only be appropriate for rationalists to practise Spirituality themselves, for a few years and only then speak on it.
Several people study the writings of saints like Tukaram Maharaj but do not follow what They did, that is do not practise Spirituality. They just savour the fruit but are reluctant to toil for it (practise Spirituality) from the time that the seed is sown, till the fruit is borne.
Information acquired intellectually is inferior to spiritual knowledge (dnyan) acquired through spiritual experience (anubhuti)

  • A. Information received through the intellect mostly has limitations of time and place. For instance, when one sees a piece of chalk the information that one gets about it through the intellect is with regard to the physical aspects like colour, shape, weight, etc. at that given point of time. On the other hand, with the help of spiritual knowledge from the subtle dimension, acquired through spiritual experience, one is able to perceive much more information related to its past as well as future, such as who has used it, where it was manufactured, what its fate will be, etc.
  • B. Intellectual knowledge is stored in the brain cells. Since the brain cells start degenerating with age, one becomes forgetful. Contrary to this, since spiritual experiences are experienced by the embodied soul doing spiritual practice (Jivatma) and the God realised soul (Shivatma), they are never forgotten.
  • C. Intellectual knowledge acquired in this birth is useless in the next. So, in each birth one has to start studying afresh from kindergarten. Spiritual experiences of the embodied soul doing spiritual practice and the God realised soul are retained even in further births.

Saints have expressed the futility of mere verbal knowledge in the following words.

  • ‘The web of words is a great forest which causes the mind to wander and creates confusion.’ – Shri Shankaracharya, Vivekchudamani 60
  • ‘There is no need to study the scriptures or the Shrutis, to embark on pilgrimages, study the yogas, perform sacrificial fires or undertake observances or intense penance. Do not fear time, do not be afraid of evil people, but never forget The Lord, Shambhu whose remembrance liberates even the sinner.’ – Shridhar Swami (author of Shivalilamrut)

2.10 Social commitments

Spirituality recognises four debts, namely, the debt to God, to sages, to ancestors and to society. However, these are all considered from the spiritual point of view. Social obligations due to psychological involvement are not included in Spirituality. For instance, although ‘Each one gets the result according to one’s actions’ (Law of Karma), is a doctrine of Spirituality, terms such as equality used at the psychological level are not relevant in the realm of Spirituality. In Spirituality, one also needs to be committed to the Everlasting Truth, that is to the Guru. However, since society constantly changes, social commitments also do. Hence, they cannot be included in Spirituality. As stated above, the commitment to society from the viewpoint of repaying the debt unto society by way of teaching society to follow Righteousness (Dharma), overcoming injustice inflicted on society, falls within the perview of Spirituality. In a way, this is spiritual practice itself.

2.11 Charvak philosophy

Charu means melodious and vak means speech. People love this doctrine because Charvak itself means ‘melodious speech’.

यावज्‍जीवेत्‌ सुखं जीवेत्‌ ऋणं कृत्‍वा घृतं पिबेत्‌ ।
भस्‍मीभूतस्‍य देहस्‍य पुनरागमनं कुत: ।।

Meaning: As long as one lives, one should live happily, feasting on clarified butter (ghee), even by incurring debt because once this body is reduced to ashes, it will not be acquired again. Everyone will readily listen to such advice but very few are inclined towards service and sacrifice for a spiritual cause.